Alimony, or spousal support, is the payment by one spouse to another of a certain sum of money, paid either during the pendency of a divorce case (called "temporary alimony") or paid after the divorce is finalized. Courts examine the circumstances of each case, focusing on two basic elements: one party's need for alimony and the other party's ability to pay. The alimony statute in Florida is Section 61.08, Florida Statutes. There are several different types of alimony that may be paid after the divorce is final.

On July 1, 2023, the Florida legislature revised the alimony laws and removed permanent alimony as one of the forms of alimony for the court to consider, among other changes. The new law applies to all divorce cases filed on or after July 1, 2023, and all divorce cases pending on or after July 1, 2023. The types of alimony the courts may now consider are: (1) durational alimony, (2) rehabilitative alimony, (3) bridge-the-gap alimony or (4) lump sum alimony. Determining which type of alimony a party may receive is often dependent on how long the parties have been married, as well as other factors. For purposes of determining alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage has a duration of less than 10 years, a moderate-term marriage has a duration between 10 and 20 years, and a long-term marriage has a duration of 20 years or longer. The length of a marriage is the time from the date of the wedding until the date of filing of an action for divorce.

  1. Bridge-the-gap alimony may be awarded to assist a party in making the transition from being married to being single. It assists a party with short-term needs and may not exceed 2 years. It terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. It is not modifiable in amount or duration.
  2. Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to assist in establishing the capacity for self-support through further education, training, or experience. In order to award rehabilitative alimony, there must be a specific and defined rehabilitative plan. The length of an award of rehabilitative alimony may not exceed 5 years.
  3. Durational alimony provides a party with economic assistance for a set period of time. An award of durational alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the recipient. It may not be awarded following a marriage lasting less than 3 years. An award of durational alimony may not exceed 50% of the length of a short-term marriage (less than 10 years), 60% of the length of a moderate-term marriage (10-20 years), or 75% of the length of a long-term marriage (20 years or more). Under exceptional circumstances, the court may extend the term of durational alimony. The amount of durational alimony is the lesser of the following: 1] The recipient's reasonable need, or 2] 35% of the difference between the parties' net (after tax) incomes. For example, if the Husband earns $120,000 per year net income and the Wife earns $50,000 per year net income, then the most the alimony award could be is 35% of $70,000, which is $24,500 per year, or what the wife reasonably needs, whichever is less. There is no formula for how much alimony a judge should award, other than the limit of 35% of the difference in net income. In this same example, if the parties had been married for 15 years, it would be considered a moderate-term marriage, and the length of alimony could not exceed 60% of 15 years, or 9 years, except in exceptional circumstances.

The factors the court uses to consider what form of alimony to award are the following:

(a)   The duration of the marriage.

(b)   The standard of living established during the marriage and the anticipated needs and necessities of life for each party after the entry of the final judgment.

(c)   The age, physical, mental, and emotional condition of each party, including whether either party is physically or mentally disabled and the resulting impact on either the obligee's ability to provide for his or her own needs or the obligor's ability to pay alimony and whether such conditions are expected to be temporary or permanent.

(d)   The resources and income of each party, including the income generated from both nonmarital and marital assets.

(e)   The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties, including the ability of either party to obtain the necessary skills or education to become self-supporting or to contribute to his or her self-support prior to the termination of the support, maintenance, or alimony award.

(f)    The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.

(g)   The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children whom the parties have in common, with special consideration given to the need to care for a child with a mental or physical disability.

(h)   Any other factor necessary for equity and justice between the parties, which shall be specifically identified in the written findings of fact.

If you have questions regarding alimony, please contact us at The Women's Law Group.